Inspiration from Mary Kay Ash
Estimated Lesson Time: 2 minutes
Mary Kay Ash (1915–2001) was the founder of Mary Kay, Inc. Mary Kay does business in more than 30 markets on five continents and generated 2002 sales of nearly $1.6 billion in wholesale sales worldwide.
Success is focusing on the human aspect of business. Mary’s idea of P&L was “people and love” rather than “profit and loss.” Mary Kay, nevertheless, powered a corporate colossus. Mary personally sent birthday cards to each employee and wrote notes of encouragement on her trademark pink stationery.
Success is encouragement. “My mother’s words became the theme of my childhood,” Mary said. “They have stayed with me all my life: ’You can do it.’”
Success is focusing on your aptitude. Mary was studying to be a doctor while raising three children and working sales part-time. She changed direction, however, when an aptitude test showed that her sales ability outranked her science ability.
Success stems from frustration. As the national sales director for WorldGift, Mary witnessed her male colleagues being promoted ahead of her at twice her salary. She retired from corporate sales and later started her billion-dollar empire.
Success is creating an opportunity where one does not exist. Mary theorized about a dream company in several of her books she had written that she would start after “retirement,” then decided to create the dream company.
Success is pressing on when faced with adversity. Just one month before the scheduled opening of Mary Kay, Inc., Mary’s husband died. But thanks to the encouragement of her children, Mary Kay, Inc. did open. Mary wrote, “I knew I would never have a second chance to put my dream into action.”
Success is making sacrifices. To attend college, conduct sales, and raise three kids alone, Mary Kay sacrificed a social life—and sleep. “Each goal had a price, and my spirit of competition always helped me feel that the price was worth it.”
Success is optimism. “Every successful entrepreneur I’ve ever met has been an incurable optimist.”
Success is believing in yourself. Today, Mary Kay’s company and philanthropy still live by her message. “If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t, you’re right.”
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)